San Estaban

Our last day in Salamanca, so we thought we’d best go inside and have a look at the San Estaban Convent – it was across the road after all. Now that I’ve seen the astronaut on the cathedral, I’ve been keeping my eye out for any other little quirky additions. There are some very traditional statues on the front of the Convent, but I can’t help but think that these two are perhaps recent additions…. the chap on the left looks a little like a ‘Far Side’ character.

The first thing you see is the King’s Cloister, which is a lovely spot.

Followed by these amazing arched walkways around the outside…

The birds seem to have taken a liking to this building as well… we counted 3 nests.

There’s a lovely harden in the Cloister and they’ve positioned mirrors around so you can see the ceiling details without breaking your neck.

There was something written about ‘living nature’ in the cloisters as it represents a heavenly paradise – I wonder if this an artist’s interpretation of that? It also looks like it could be a take on a nun’s habit, and we do mostly think of nuns living in convents, however, this convent housed friars, so maybe this is also a way of adding a feminine touch?

This was a later addition – used as a dining hall. It was huge and felt more like a stable.

This room was quite significant – it was a tiny space where the powers that be got together to make group decisions – like where Christopher Columbus should go on his journey! They decided he was allowed to go but he first had to go and ask Queen Isobel for the money and permission to sail under the Spanish flag.

Here’s Me Jenny doing a little bit of thinking before she makes the decision to move on to the next room…

This room was a lovely chapel, which lost a tiny bit of it’s ‘old’ appeal with the addition of this automatic glass door.

At the front of this chapel, we noticed these two doors with the basin and hand towel and naturally thought that they were bathrooms/toilets – which, yes, did seem odd at the from of the chapel, but it seemed plausible… but then we did a bit of reading and it turns out that they’re confessionals. Still not sure what the basin and towel are for… I guess it depends on what you’re confessing?

The staircase which was built in in 1553 is amazing. How it is still standing I don’t know…

And if you look carefully there is a sculpture of Mary Magdalene lounging…

Climbing both up and down on the stairs, they felt solid, but with a distinct lean to them…

The next door lead you into the church, which was HUGE!

84 metres long, 15.5 metres wide and 45 metres high at the highest part. It was finished in 1693 and took 170 years to build.

Upstairs around the Cloister…

When Christopher Columbus, or Chrisobel Colon, as he was known in Salamanca, travelled to South America and bought back news of indigenous peoples living there, it was decided amongst the friars that they were to be treated like human beings….

Around the walls of the upstairs verandahs there were sayings written in Spanish like this one that translates to: ‘By natural right nobody is superior to another’

Downstairs along the last corridor there were 3 tiny doors… yes, they looked smaller when you were standing far away from them… but still small by regular door sizes. The last one was open – it was a small wall cavity, the size of a toilet with one chair and a little window with a video screen playing behind it…. Me Jenny had a couple of sins that she needed to confess to Saint Teresa before we left (she loves it when I make her pose for photos). Saint Teresa is apparently the patron saint of sick people, people in religious orders, people ridiculed for their piety and lacemakers.

Needing a bit of al fresco, we picked a direction and wandered in it, the streets become deserted very quickly once you cross the street out of the tourist areas. We found ourselves sitting outside of another church on a bench across from a garden just taking a breather.

We must have been close to a hospital or old folks home as there were a few older ladies being walked with assistance by younger ladies. We smiled and said ‘Hola’ as they passed us…. as we went to leave, we stopped and looked at out map deciding which street to go down and one of the younger helpers called out to us and gave us directions.

She didn’t realise that we were trying to look around the non tourist areas, and she didn’t understand our ‘we’re ok, gracias’. She spoke no English and we think she may have even been Russian, so she kept insisting that we go down a street that would lead us directly back to the main square. She wasn’t going to let us go down any other street than the one she was recommending…. so we took it. We managed to find a different route once we were out of her sight and avoided going back to the square.

We both really felt like Italian food for dinner and did a bit of googling for restaurants in walking distance. This one had a few good reviews, so gave it a try – it was agreed that it was the best meal that we’ve had since getting to Spain! A big call I know, but you know when you just really feel like something and they deliver? Also the staff were really friendly and patient with our attempts at Spanish! Gracias mi amigos!

Thank you Salamanca – Buenos Noches!

Categories: Salamanca, Spain, Travel

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